[linux-elitists] Patent Proposals

Mr.Bad mr.bad@pigdog.org
Tue Mar 20 13:35:29 PST 2001


So, Don: it seems to me that there's something missing from this
proposal. We all know the common plea from patent-holding companies:
they need to keep their patent portfolio big and fat so when patent
sharks come after them, they can do a patent swap.

Your proposals seem good, but they seem too government-oriented and
too long-term. Principally, they lack specific actions required of the
signatories. It would be quite easy for industry fat cats to sign
onto this, get nothing out of the government, and continue their
current "defensive" practices.

What about these possible other points?

        * Propose a moratorium on new software patents by the
          signatories.

        * Propose a moratorium on new software patent lawsuits.

        * Make a follow-up to the "mutual defense" strategy of the
          LFP:

                http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/Patents/mutual-def.html

          That would mean forming an organization to "bank" existing
          software patents, and allow immediate cross-licensing for
          all new members. 

          This idea is reproposed every year or so by RMS, but it
          keeps languishing since folks opposed to patenting software
          tend not to have any patents to put in the pot. Having even
          one large patentholder join this kind of organization would
          send a big message across the "defensive" industry
          landscape.

        * Propose a new GNU-style license for patents, so that patents
          already in their portfolio can be licensed for free to all
          takers, with provisos about patenting derivative works
          and/or making patent attacks in the future -- kind of like a
          preemptive patent swap.          

          There are probably any number of lawyers or law professors
          who would be happy to create this kind of patent license.

It seems that there is a lot that big software patent holders can do
to make changes in the private sector, in parallel with the Patent
Office reform. Why not at least give them a chance to reject this
stuff?

~Mr. Bad

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